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Workforce study finds ag needs more skilled workers

24 October 2013

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today welcomed the release of the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency’s (AWPA’s) Food and beverage workforce study, which has found that the agricultural and wider food sector needs more highly skilled workers.

NFF CEO Matt Linnegar welcomed the release of the report, which the NFF helped develop.

“The AWPA report adds weight to what the NFF has long been saying – that our sector as a whole needs more skilled workers, and that achieving this will require greater collaboration across the entire education and agricultural industries,” Mr Linnegar said.

“People are our sector’s greatest resource, and ensuring we have a strong and sustainable workforce into the future is a priority, not only for the NFF and farmers, but also the wider agricultural, food and fibre sectors.

“The lack of skilled workers in agriculture and across the wider sector emerged as one of the key issues facing the industry in the NFF-led, industry-developed Blueprint for Australian Agriculture – an issue that requires action today to ensure our sector can continue to grow into the future.

“The NFF has long called for a body that can oversee the entire education and careers pathway area – from teaching primary school students about agriculture, to developing interest in agricultural careers as students reach high school, to providing education, training and development opportunities for people as they progress into, and along, their careers.

“We welcome one of the key recommendations from the AWPA report, which is to develop a national coordinating body for driving industry workforce development. We will be working closely with this body as it is developed, ensuring close integration between it and the NFF’s National Workforce Development Plan, currently in development.

“We also welcome other key recommendations from the report, including the establishment of a career promotion strategy; further developing the skills of the existing workforce; encouraging more employers to invest in training; and increasing industry-involvement to ensure education and training is industry-relevant.

“Critically, the AWPA report acknowledges one of the NFF’s key concerns - the lack of robust data that current exists around the workforce development needs of agriculture.

“This lack of data is impacting on the development of education and skills policies for the industry, so we believe one of the first tasks of a new national coordinating body should be to fill in the data gaps by developing a workforce profile for the sector.

“This will help AWPA, the NFF and others - through the coordinating body - to find key solutions to the issues facing the agricultural workforce, ensuring it is ready to capitalise on opportunities ahead,” Mr Linnegar said.

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